The Rehabilitation Act of 1973

The Fight for 504

The Fight for 504

When I first learned about the 504 sit-in protest that occurred in 1977, it enriched and deepened my pride in being a disabled person. It made me even more honored to be a part of the disability community. It educated me on the struggle for securing our civil rights, and ignited a passion that I have today, to continue to fight for disability justice and equality.

In case you don’t know about what the Fight for 504 is, here is a brief historical recap: In 1973 Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act was signed into law. The text of Section 504 states: “No otherwise qualified handicapped individual in the United States shall solely on the basis of his handicap, be excluded from the participation, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.” This means no person should be excluded from any program, service, or similar which receives federal funds.

This was the first civil rights law written specifically for the disabled. It is considered a pre-cursor to the Americans with Disabilities Act that was passed years later in 1990. But while disabled advocates were cheering 504, business and government leaders weren’t